The big open source news opportunity

The point is to organize and advocate your local market. Geographic-based services help with the organizing, and community-created videos can create the advocacy.

Want to beat the you-know-what out of your local newspaper "monopoly?"

Open source has found a way.

Your two ingredients are:

Your site will live locally only in part. Much of it  -- the high-cost video part of it -- will live mainly in the Google cloud, brought to your readers through embed links.

The key to it all is OpenBlock, which was first funded by the Knight Foundation as Everyblock, then sold to MSNBC in 2009.

The expansion of the open source project is pushed by two newspapers, The Boston Globe and the Columbia (Missouri) Tribune. The funding, again, comes from Knight, but the largest part of the funding goes to OpenPlans, which already has a number of geo-based projects underway.

As the deal indicates this is all aimed at making local newspapers relevant in the Internet age, but since OpenPlans is an open source project there is no reason why new entrepreneurs can't take advantage of it.

You can start by looking at another OpenPlans project, StreetsBlog, or consider another open source project, the new WordPress. It is, as noted earlier today, a full-fledged Content Management Service, meaning it can scale to where you want it. Or, if you think you need professional help with your CMS, check out Acquia.

The point, as I have said many times, is to organize and advocate your local market. Geographic-based services help with the organizing, and community-created videos can create the advocacy.

The time is now, and the opportunity is here. Newspapers will never seize it. They haven't over 15 years. You can. Just remember to start from the ad side in, linking buyers and sellers, then move out to advocacy, not the other way around.

The future of local news is open.

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